• New Yearís Resolutions App Round-Up: Part 3 - Better Yourself



    Better Yourself: Quit Smoking, Get Organised, Read More


    Ok, so part 3 is a bit of a cop out - Iíve sort of smushed three resolutions into one here. But really, how many eReader apps do you need? If youíve got too many organisation apps, youíll need a separate app just to organise them! So letís keep it simple, shall we?

    Quit Smoking

    Iím unashamedly anti-smoking, so youíll get no sympathy from me here. If youíre a smoker, you need to quit right now. And you really need to stop smoking at bus stops - as someone who is incredibly frightened of second hand smoke and who catches the bus regularly, I canít emphasise enough the discomfort of trying to breathe as little as possible when Iím waiting for the bus near someone who is smoking. Itís not like I can move very far, now is it? With new laws though, it wonít be long before I can breathe easy everywhere I go. I know itís not easy, quitting, but these apps can help you beat the cravings.

    Quit Now: My QuitBuddy

    There are a heap of timers and inspirational message apps thatíll have some sort of angle on quitting, but you shouldnít have to look beyond the Australian governmentís QuitBuddy app. Itís got it all: you can input your last smoke and know how many days, hours, minutes since your last cigarette. Youíll know how much money youíve saved since you began trying to beat your addiction and how many miligrams of tar youíve avoided. You can even see, in real time, how your body is healing.

    The handy facts about your body coincide with the governmentís latest anti-smoking ad campaign - each part of your body will heal at a different rate after your last cigarette and the handy body-chart will pinpoint which parts are healing at your particular point in the quitting process. Itís neat to be able to see how your body is recovering and heartening to see that every cigarette you donít smoke is doing you good.




    There are even a few sideline components to the app that are worth taking a look at. If you click on the large button at the bottom of the home screen, ĎBack me upí, youíll be given a list of handy tips and facts, a chance to call the quitline or a friend through Buddy Up or a cute little doodle pad to distract you. You can also access the Quit community for a quick answer, story or stat.

    If youíre really serious about quitting, you can input a few personal elements into the app to make sure you stay on track. If you tap on ĎMy Goalsí you can write up a brief reason for quitting and upload an inspirational and motivational image. I chose a still from the old anti-smoking ads with the doctor squeezing out a cadaverís artery. If you want, you can assign a contact to act as your motivator or leave yourself a voice recording to the same effect.

    ĎThe Factsí is pretty self explanatory - facts about the chemicals and toxins that go into cigarettes, exactly how they damage your body and that of those around you a few tips on making quitting easier.



    A clever little perk of the app is that everytime you start it up, itíll ask if youíre still smoke free or if youíve slipped up. It doesnít pass judgment, it doesnít make you take the initiative to restart the process yourself and it recognises that quitting is a journey, not a destination. Itís more than just a counter, itís more than just the tips or the motivational goal setting - itís your Quit Buddy and itíll make quitting a concrete possibility.


    Read More

    Now that youíre on the way to healthy and wealthy, weíve got to get to work on the wise part. You might think that reading more is just a matter of picking up a book and reading it, but youíre wrong. Reading is more than just a thing you do, itís more than just a hobby. Reading is one of the core aspects of what separates humanity from animals. It deserves respect, love and an energetic leap into the practice. No half-hearted attempts here, please?

    Goodreads

    Some books are good, others not so much, and a rare few are truly great. Problem is, taste in literature is so subjective, how do you tell the greats from the not-so-greats in the tumultuous cascade of eBooks available online? A book is a serious time investment, eating up hours spread across days, weeks and months. You want to make sure that your time is spent enjoying the book rather than screaming at the protagonist because sheís a one dimensional Mary-Sue with horrible taste in superhuman men.

    While iBooks, Kobo and Kindle apps on the iPhone do a good job of making sure your access to reading material is unhindered, a simple Ďmost popularí or Ďbest sellersí list just isnít going to cut it when it comes down to picking the right book to read. Afterall, the Bible has sold millions of copies across many editions, but I wouldnít recommend everyone go out and get a copy. So how do we filter the seemingly endless parade of books to be left with just the star acts that weíd actually want to see?



    Goodreads. Itís much more than just a database for books - itís a social way to engage with literature and keep up with what your friends are reading.

    First step to enjoying Goodreads is setting up an account. You can put in your name, location, an image, but the real fun part is your reading history. You can peruse Goodreadís database and earmark any books youíve read, are reading or want to read. Each lookup will provide you with a synopsis, cover art (various editions and languages are supported here), user reviews and a star rating system which you can contribute to. Add to that, you can scan your existing physical books to input them into your Ďreadí list - that way you can digitise your current library. Alternatively, you can take out your iPhone in a bookstore or library to scan any books you want to add to your Ďto-readí list.



    But Goodreads will let you do more than just search for books - users can upload their own books or you can get a hold of one of thousands of copyright free books like those available through Project Gutenberg to read directly in the app. If you do, you can update your reading progress right from within the eBook.

    Oh, that reminds me - you can update your reading progress of books as youíre going along, complete with comments or notes for your review. This information will be added to your profile for others to see. You can add your friends via email or through Facebook so they can keep up with your reading and vice versa. Whenever you look up a book or download one, youíll have the option to share it with your friends, through a Goodreads recommendation, on Facebook, Twitter or directly via email or SMS.



    If you donít trust your friendsí judgement in books and the reviews from the Goodreads community donít cut it, you can filter down your searches by category via Goodreadsí Explore. You can even check out the most popular, most downloaded Ö the usual. If you want something a little out there, you can try the Ďrandom bookí option and see where that takes you - youíll get some amazing finds, but youíll also find out just how vast the Goodreads database is.

    I really love Goodreads and have been using it for a while to look up books, despite only having signed up a few months ago. The only issue I can find with the app is the scanning feature - like Lemon Wallet, you donít really know if itís worked or not until the data pops up. Outside of that, stellar app that has my full support. Go download it. Now.


    Get Organised

    Everybody makes to-do lists, be they on scraps of paper, in your head or in app. The only difference between these is that one gets lost or has coffee spilt on it, another is forgotten or jumbled up throughout the course of the day and the last option is easy, reliable and comes preloaded with a bunch of handy functions thatíll let you manage, track and keep up with your daily routines and set tasks. Guess which is which.

    If youíre determined to make 2013 the year where you get your sugar* together, then you really should be looking into using your iPhone to help you out - itís a grave mistake to ignore tools that are freely at your disposal and have the potential to enrich your life.

    * I went with a PG approach here, but Iím sure you can guess what I meant

    Astrid

    Astrid has been around for a while and is quite well known. If you havenít heard about it, youíre definitely worse off because of it. Itís a neat little app for anyone who is a chronic list maker, and even better for those who arenít but should be.

    The logo is cute and the layout is clean cut, but the appís power lies in how simple to use it is. Perhaps too simple in some regards, but Iíll get to that later. When you first get on board with the app, youíll have to sign up. If you go the email route, you can get email updates about tasks that are due on that day - which is useful but can really clog up your inbox if you use the app religiously.

    When you set up a task or checklist, you can assign due dates and reminders at set times, a category from a predefined list or your own, contacts from your iPhone contact list and a priority (!, !! or !!!). You can even share it via email, etc. from within the app. You can integrate Astrid due dates with your calendar too, just to make sure you keep on top of what needs doing and when.



    If you set up a checklist, you can tick these off as you go and itíll show up in your updates and that of those who are also assigned to it (assuming they have the app). You can filter down your task according to when they are due (soon, today, overdue Ö). You can even do it all via voice - use the speech input function to dictate your lists and tasks.

    If youíre not much of a list maker, you can always just borrow someone elseís - you can browse community lists ranging from keeping your pets happy to eating right. Of course, you can contribute to this collection by making your lists public.

    While the concept is executed well, I found that a lot of the functions double up - if I created a checklist as separate from a task, it would still show up in my updates, despite them not being executable in any sense that makes sense. Take for example a list of yoga items - thatís just a list that I can use and reuse at my discretion, but Ďtowelí and Ďyoga matí kept popping up in my active tasks.

    Add to that the fact that, once I created the task or checklist, I couldnít for the life of me find out how to delete it. Maybe I overlooked something obvious, but I just ended up with a list of duplicate tasks and checklists that I copied from the astrid community lists to try it out but donít intend on keeping.



    It works better than the native reminders app, but an actual or repeatable tutorial (right now you get these pop ups the first time you select an option) or a better layout might be a wise addition here? Not sure about that, but overall I was happy with the app.


    And there you have it - all of you New Year resolutions solved. Everybody can become better people, the world can work smoother and weíll finally achieve world peace. At the very least, there should be a few less people who smoke and a bunch of people who sign up to Goodreads, which should be everyone but Iíll take what I can get.


    @_kellycvieira has great taste in books, as is evident on her Goodreads account. She can write too - most notably for MobilePhoneFinder.com.au. Donít believe me? Take a look at the mega-super-awesome-epic camera phone comparison she spearheaded in 2012.


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